Year end interview with Paul Davis
Progressive Conservative Leader Paul Davis was not feeling holly and jolly and festive when he sat down for the traditional year-end interview with The Telegram.
A year ago, when Davis spoke to The Telegram for his 2015 year-end interview, the talk was mostly about the provincial election that had just tossed him out of the premier’s office.
A year later, Davis launches almost immediately into election talk, and the Liberals’ broken promises.
“What happened last year was people were promised so much, and they didn’t need to be promised so much,” Davis said.
“They had no intention of keeping (those promises) and people feel betrayed. They feel like they’re living in a circumstance now that’s more difficult than we’ve seen in a very, very, very long time.”
When asked pointedly about it, Davis said he’s not hung up on the election — he said he was resigned to losing more than a year before the election was even called.
But he repeatedly criticized the Liberal election campaign rhetoric — “fluffy, piein-the-sky kind of stuff” — and perceived dishonesty since taking office.
In the past year, the Liberal government has given Davis a lot of ammo for those kinds of accusations.
Ball seemed to say contradictory things in the long-running severance scandal related to outgoing Nalcor Energy CEO Ed Martin, a matter that is still under investigation by the province’s auditor general.
The Liberal government broke election promises about not raising the province’s sales tax and not laying off government workers.
Ball flew a controversial Christian flag at Confederation Building, and claimed there was no clear policy on the matter, but then government documents later indicated there is a policy that should have prevented the flag from being raised.
On the election promises that have been kept by the Liberals — such as establishing an independent appointments commission and a seniors’ advocate — Davis says the final product is a lot less than what was promised.
“Right now, the problem I hear most from people is trust. They don’t trust them,” Davis said.
“They say one thing, and then the opposition goes to work and does (access to information requests), and goes digging around, and we do our work and find out, well, no, that’s not the way it really is.”
Looking ahead to 2017 and the future, Davis is in something of a lame duck situation.
Earlier this year he an- nounced he would step aside as party leader ahead of the 2019 election, after it became clear some factions of his own party were pushing for a confidence vote to oust him.
Davis said his plan now is to stick around until at least 2019, but as politicians are fond of saying, “three years is a long time in politics.”
The party is currently working on developing new rules for how his successor will be picked, and he says he’s feeling optimistic about that.
“I want to see a leadership process that’s going to be conducive to having good discussions, be able to see what people’s policies and intentions are, how they’re going to do business and so on,” he said.
“From a party perspective, I think it’s a good opportunity for the party. It’s a lot of work to do. It’s a difficult process to get there, but I’m looking forward to a good outcome in the end.”
As for the province in 2017, Davis gave a bit more of an optimistic assessment than 2016.
“We’ve got great potential for the province, in the future,” he said.
“Right now it’s struggling because of the world economy and the impacts of oil, but I think we’ve got great potential.”
In a year-end interview with The Telegram, Progressive Conservative Leader Paul Davis said the Liberals had no intention of keeping the promises they made during the 2015 provincial election campaign.